Protesters demand recall in Tamsui

LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS?:The protesters occupying the legislature organized discussions to analyze opposing proposals to regulate cross-strait trade agreements

By Alison Hsiao, Loa Iok-sin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNA

Sun, Apr 06, 2014 - Page 1

Hundreds of protesters gathered in New Taipei City’s Tamsui (淡水) yesterday afternoon, distributing flyers that promoted a non-government version of a bill to regulate a monitoring mechanism for cross-strait negotiations while demanding the recall of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇).

Wu, along with KMT legislators Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) and Lin Te-fu (林德福), has been named by the student-led protesters as one of the nation’s “four major bandits” for following President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) commands to the letter, and as such is “unqualified to represent the public.”

The students gathered on the plaza in front of the Tamsui MRT station at 4:30pm, chanting the slogans: “Information transparency is a governmental responsibility” and “congressional supervision to enable justice and equality.”

Wu, whose constituency is in Tamsui, said he had alerted the police to the event due to safety concerns for the station’s personnel.

“We hope the students will not use violence or illegal actions while expressing their requests and demands,” Wu said.

Wu said the students should have been observing Tomb Sweeping Day yesterday instead of acting in tandem with the Democratic Progressive Party and added that political parties have different stances and ideals on certain issues and it was irrational to publicly threaten one party or another for their dissenting opinions on public issues.

Meanwhile, the ongoing occupation of the legislative chamber took on a new aspect yesterday as demonstrators held a “civic parliament” to discuss separate versions of the bill drafted by the government and by members of the public aimed at giving closer scrutiny to cross-strait agreements.

The first session began at about 9:30am at the side entrance of the Legislative Yuan complex with lawyer Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) and Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor of law Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) explaining the differences between the two drafts.

“President Ma Ying-jeou repeatedly mentioned South Korea as an example of a nation actively negotiating trade agreements with other countries,” Lai said. “But we also want to remind him that South Korea has a law regarding the signing of trade agreements, and the civic groups’ proposal adopts much of the language from the South Korean legislation.”

Participants were then divided into 20 groups of between 15 and 25 people each to talk about the differences.

“I think the Cabinet proposal for the bill to monitor cross-strait agreements is too empty, but the civic groups’ version is too idealistic and may be difficult to implement in practice,” a student taking part in the meeting said.

“The judiciary should act as an intermediary when the executive and the legislative branches are at odds with each other on cross-strait agreements,” another participant said.

More than 200 students and citizens participated in a second, afternoon round, which took place in the legislative chamber.

The second session commenced with Academia Sinica research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) saying that the legislature had called for a similar bill as early as 2008, with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) saying that there must be an oversight mechanism and that the executive department cannot shun legal supervision.

“However, the call was refused by then-Mainland Affairs Council minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), who called it unnecessary,” Huang said.

The opposition party also proposed various versions of the bill a total of 108 times, which were all rejected in the legislature’s Procedure Committee, he added.

Huang compared the Executive Yuan’s version of the oversight bill with the one drafted by the civic groups, saying that according to the former, signing agreements “is still directed and controlled by the executive power that ‘explains their work and listens to the people’ without allowing for revisions to be made to the pacts.”

The non-government version, in contrast, “requires the establishment of a pre-negotiation agreement and concluding plan by the executive department with the participation of the legislature,” Huang said.

During the second session, people divided into 10 discussion groups, which ended after two hours with each group summarizing and presenting their deliberations.

A third session took place later yesterday evening.

Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), one of the Sunflower movement’s leaders, said that once the results of the “civil parliament” are compiled into a report, he looks forward to a point-by-point response from the Cabinet and lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties.